It’s no secret that the real estate market is competitive. Just like the retail sector, real estate is undergoing a complete digital transformation:
the rise of online agencies, such as PurpleBricks, is completely evolving the way we buy, sell and let property.
Starting a letting agency or estate agency from home is by far the preferred choice for most start-up agents. As Google reports an increasing number of searches for ‘how to start an online estate agency’ and as the market share for online agents increases year on year, this form of property selling isn’t going away.
With this in mind, here is a useful checklist that you can use when setting up your own agency – whether online or offline.
1. Write your business plan:
It goes without saying that this should be the first step of beginning any business. Writing one will make you analyse your idea; what market are you targeting? Who are your direct competitors?
If you need help with a business plan, this useful template may help.
2. Find your premises:
When it comes to your business premises, you’ll certainly need to put some thought into its’ location. You’ll want a space with lots of footfall, in a popular location.
Online agents will also need to think about its’ ‘digital premises’ – where will you host your website? What company will build it for you? What will your domain name be? These are all important decisions to ensure you get good web traffic and that your website is reliable and consistent.
3. Get the right software:
This may seem backwards, but you should ALWAYS choose your Estate Agent Software provider before you publish your website – whether you are an online or offline agent. It is imperative that you find out (before signing up) from your chosen web designer if they can integrate with your estate or letting agent software and what the cost of integrating the two systems is.
A good way to bypass this is to use a software that allows you to host everything under one roof – it allows you to have one number to call, will usually save you money and time.
Have you thought about the online and offline marketing materials?
Give your brand careful consideration – you will be a new kid on the block, and will need to build trust as soon as possible.
Your brochures and window cards will need to be printed (if you are an offline agent), so the company you use to supply your printer will be important. Multifunctional copier-printers will usually allow you to print a range of different sizes and tend to be cost-effective.
You’ll also need to consider your digital marketing activities, such as social media marketing, website uploads, email marketing, PR, SEO, Adwords, Bing and more.
Building trust with your clients is crucial, and having the right protection in place will help your case. Not only will this be a trust indicator for prospective vendors, but it will also give you peace of mind.
You need to consider the following insurance as an estate/letting agent:
- Public liability insurance: This covers the cost of legal action and compensation claims made against your business if a third party is injured or their property suffers damage whilst at your business premises or when you are working in their home, office or business property.
- Professional indemnity insurance: If you are alleged to have provided inadequate advice, services or designs to a client, professional indemnity insurance provides cover for the legal costs and expenses in defending the claim, as well as compensation payable to your client to rectify the mistake.
- Employers’ liability insurance: If you have employees, contractors, casual workers or temporary staff, you’re required by law to take out this insurance.
The property market is competitive and disruptive, and starting a business in this area certainly has its’ challenges. However, with the right attitude, commitment and support, a new online or offline estate/letting agent can stand out from the crowd and be successful.